Interesting articles – importance of verges, down-to-earth veg names, nitrogen anew, gardens for dementia, outdoor tomatoes

A verge in June

A verge in June – buttercups galore, sorrel in flower and by the hedgebank, some late lady’s smock

http://www.plantlife.org.uk/roadvergecampaign/why_are_road_verges_so_important
This campaign has appeared in lots of gardening press this summer and is an interesting contrast to complaints from drivers about visibility problems with verges (fair point in some cases…in many  cases slowing down will do marvels!). We joined Plantlife this year, but last year we had our attention drawn to the potential beauty of verges when we joined local plant walks. This late spring they were perhaps more spectacular than ever, with campion, bluebells, buttercups, and cow parsley all out at once (but I didn’t take any pictures).  I was glad to see one local verge, though mowed last month, was left untouched around some early purple orchids that had still to set seed. It’s frustrating that in many suburban areas, councils seem to insist on keeping wasteful little patches of verge that alternate between mudbaths and deserts and require costly, messy, noisy strimming to maintain, but there are verges and there are verges (and according to Plantlife hundreds of thousands of acres of them in the UK) and their management does deserve more individual thought.

The warty, drunken heirloom vegetables of New England
I’d like to claim I’m utterly unmoved by plant names and focus merely on the right plant in the right place, but at some point you’ll find out we chose an apple tree called Pig’s Nose because it reminds us of our dog. So I love articles like this that celebrate the names and the reasons behind some of them; Red Warty Thing is definitely going on my list of things to seek out when someone gives me that walled vegetable garden one day…

http://emmacooper.org/blog/food-from-the-air?
Emma is always great at sharing her fascination with the science behind plants in a way that makes you think, “oh, yes, I think I actually get that”. Here she’s explaining a development that might allow plants to produce their own nitrogen in a similar way to plants like peas and beans. If you’re cleverer than wot I am, you can follow links to the scientific papers behind the news as well.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jul/30/dementia-gardening-helping-people?
For me the most interesting bit of this story came further down; the nurse-turned-garden designer who has written a guide to gardens suitable for dementia patients, incorporating tips like using only edible plants (ie, not poisonous) and raised beds to make things easier to see. Find out more here (the link is in the Guardian article but I nearly missed it first time around) – http://www.kimgrove-gardendesigner.co.uk/dementia.php

http://www.edenproject.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/how-to-grow-tomatoes-without-a-greenhouse/
Actually I was a bit disappointed with this as I hoped it might shed some light on what’s gone wrong with our outdoor tomatoes this year (specifically a complete cessation of fruit set for about a month). Some of the other tips are useful though and most interesting, if unrelated to tomatoes, is the idea of using a solution of foxgloves to against gooseberry sawfly. Hmm, we have lots of foxgloves, lots of sawfly (I miss having chickens) and not as many gooseberries as we’d like. Doubt we’d do anything with it, but like imagining vivid and inescapable doom befalling people who cause me distress, it’s nice to think about.

One of our few tomatoes that have set outdoors

One of our few tomatoes that have set outdoors

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